Inga's Indulgence

Friday, November 25, 2011

Project Turkey: The Day After

Ahh leftovers - arguably the best part of Thanksgiving (or any holiday). Because just when you think you've reached your eating capacity for the season, it all continues the next day. But let's be a little creative, and take it past the turkey sandwich shall we...

Creamy Turkey & Corn Chowder
(yield: 4-6 servings)

2 tbsp canola oil
4 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups white button mushrooms, medium dice
2 cups cooked turkey meat (white meat, dark meat, or a combination), medium dice
2 medium idaho potatoes, medium dice
2 ears of corn, shucked
5 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1 cup heavy cream
salt & pepper, to taste
dill, chopped (for garnish)

Place the oil and shallots into a saucepan and sweat over medium heat until they become translucent,  2-3 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, and turkey, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes, corn (along with the shucked ears), and turkey stock to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook over low heat, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Stir the cornstarch/water slurry into the soup. Add heavy cream, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Pour into a bowl, sprinkle with dill, grab a spoon, and allow yourself to plop onto the couch and indulge. You owe it to yourself; the holidays are tough ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Project Turkey: Day 4

Why shouldn't your baby get to join in on the thanksgiving festivities this year? If you haven't already introduced your baby to poultry other than chicken, turkey's a great place to start.

Hmm, let's see...we need something healthy (so that baby gets his nutrients), tender (so that baby can handle it no matter how many teeth he has), and super flavorful (so that baby keeps eating).

Someone say meatballs?

Turkey Meatballs
(yield: about 30 balls)

1/4 cup golden raisins
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (white bread)
1 medium yellow onion, grated
2 tbsp milk
1 egg
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

Place the raisins in a small bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let stand 5-10 minutes, until they soften. Drain the raisins and combine with remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into small balls. Simmer meatballs in  turkey or chicken stock, for 8-10 minutes. If your baby can't handle solids yet, break the meatballs up with a fork and moisten with some of the stock.

So, you're telling me that you're in the mood for some meatballs yourself? Don't worry, mama chef's got ya covered. 
Here's the adult version:

Pumpkin Penne with Turkey Meatballs
(yield: 4-6 servings)

Season the above meatball recipe with 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper.

Make a bread crumb mixture for the meatballs: Mix 1/4 cup of Italian breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup of finely choppd parsley in a bowl.

Dredge the meatballs in the breadcrumb mixture, shaking off excess. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil, and place the pan over medium-high heat. Fry the meatballs, 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

Pumpkin Penne
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs pumpkin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 ln Penne rigate
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Using the pan in which the meatballs were fried, reduce heat to low, add olive oil and saute onions and garlic, 1-2 minutes. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Sauté over medium heat 5-6 minutes, until pumpkin gets slightly golden. Deglaze the pan with water. Bring to a simmer, and cook, covered, over low heat for 10-12 minutes, until pumpkin is tender.

Cook the Penne until it is almost al dente. Add 1 cup of the pasta water to pumpkin sauce along with heavy cream. Add the pasta and reserved meatballs to the sauce, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Mix in parmesan, and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Project Turkey: Day 3

My Pre-thankgiving turkey experimentation inevitably brought me to the breast of the bird. Though I do love oven-roasted turkey breast, I wouldn't say it's my favorite part of the bird to cook with. When cooked attached to the whole bird, like in the classic whole roasted turkey preparation, the breast has a better chance of being succulent and tender. But when cooked in isolation, it has a tendency to dry out. Having the inside scoop on this, I decided to strategically fabricate or cut the breast in such a way that would create the illusion of tenderness, and rely on a direct heat cooking method that would impart a lot of flavor while sealing in the juices.

In layman's terms I pounded the turkey breast into thin cutlets and grilled it. By now, you've probably caught on to all this small talk being a way to detract from the fact that I'm grilling in November right? No biggy, the weather's still nice, and if it's not, most of us own a grill pan. If you're shaking your head no to that last statement, you better go out and buy one this instant.

What can I say, I miss the summer sizzle and I miss the feeling I get when I eat grilled food - that skinny feeling. It's no wonder so many of us get that feeling, because grilling is a pretty healthy cooking method. And it just so happens that turkey breast is very lean. So dare we call the following dish the star of a figure-friendly Thanksgiving? Let's not, just because it will ruin the sanctity of what this holiday is all about. Eating, right? (I'm kidding) But seriously, you can think it, but it's probably best not to tell your guests. They'll look at you funny.

Grilled Turkey Breast with Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
(yield: 4 servings)

2 lbs turkey breast, sliced or pounded into 1/2-inch thick cutlets
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp canola oil
1 oz red onion, finely chopped
1 pint  fresh cranberries
juice and zest of 1 medium orange
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup cilanto, chopped

Make the cranberry sauce: heat the canola oil in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onions, and sweat 2-3 minutes. Add cranberries, orange juice and zest, chipotle sauce, and maple syrup. Simmer 5-6 minutes until sauce thickens and some of the cranberries just begin to burst. Stir in 1/2 of the cilantro, reserving the rest for garnish.

Marinade the turkey: combine olive oil, oregano, and pepper in a large bowl. Place turkey into the bowl and mix to coat with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Preheat grill or grill pan and spray with a little bit of non-stick cooking spray. Once grill is nice and hot, retrieve the turkey from the marinade, season with salt on both sides, and grill, about 4 minutes per side. Turn the breasts 90 degrees at the halfway point on each side to achieve cross-hatch marks. Spoon cranberry sauce over grilled turkey, sprinkle with some more cilantro, and eat immediately.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Project Turkey: Day 2

Lets back the turkey train up a bit. I neglected to give you the recipe for an imperative staple that will get you through your thanksgiving cooking quests. That staple is turkey stock.

Sure you can buy it, or even use chicken stock. But if you've already got the bird, why not make the most out of it. The neck of the turkey happens to make a wonderful stock that you can use to flavor nearly every dish on your holiday table (except dessert, I hope). Turkey stock can be used to baste your bird, make a soup, gravy or pan sauce, moisten your stuffing, or flavor your side dishes. You can even make a little more than necessary, and freeze it for later use.

So make it! You won't regret it, trust me.

Turkey Stock
(yield: 2 quarts)

2 quarts cold water
turkey neck
1 medium yellow onion, halved
1 large carrot, cut into a few large pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into a few large pieces
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
cheese cloth, as needed

Place water, turkey neck, onion, carrots, and celery into a large stock pot.

Make a bouquet garni* by wrapping the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a small piece of cheese cloth and tying with kitchen twine. Add bouquet to stock pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam that rises to the surface, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Remove bouquet and vegetables, and strain the stock.

*A bouquet garni is just a bundle of herbs or spices wrapped together in cheese cloth, or simply bound together by a string. It is typically placed into stocks, soups, or stews to add flavor.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Project Turkey: Day 1

Every year, when Thanksgiving comes a knockin' I get the urge to ditch the whole roasted bird and do something different. And every year, tradition gets the best of me, and I chicken (or turkey) out.

This year, however, I vow to funk it up. Being that I haven't gone entirely mad yet, the turkey will still make its grand appearance at the table, but in a different fashion, if you will. For this reason, I have already purchased an experimantal bird that I will...experiment with, until I find the perfect turkey recipe for turkey day. Mwahahahahaha!!!!

We start with a recipe that makes use of my favorite meat on the bird, and what, in my opinion, the whole turkey should be made of - the dark meat.

Barbecued Pulled Turkey with Holiday Cole Slaw
(yield: 6-8 servings)

2 tbsp canola oil
4 turkey leg quarters
1 large Spanish onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
3 cups turkey stock (or chicken stock)
2 dried bay leafs
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt

Heat the oil in a large, deep pan. Brown the turkey, about 5 minutes per side. Stir in the onions, garlic, and saute 1-2 minutes. Add turkey stock, bay leafs, peppercorns, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, and simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Remove everything from pan except about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Once turkey is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones, and add back to pan, along with barbecue sauce, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Bring to a simmer, and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Serve on crusty bread with Holiday Coleslaw.

Holiday Coleslaw
(yield: 8 servings)

2 lbs cabbage (1 learge head), shredded
2 large carrots (4 cups), grated
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp pepper

Place the cabbage and carrots into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Using your hands, squeeze well to distribute the salt and sugar until the cabbage begins to release its juices. Place into a colander set over a bowl, and top with a heavy weight (you can use some heavy bowls). Let stand 3 hours.

Mix the remaining ingredients into drained slaw. Serve right away, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pregnancy Daze

I found myself day dreaming about my pregnant days today, and definitely not because I want to go back to that any time soon.

Surprisingly the nostalgia began with hunger. I suddenly craved a substantial, healthy meal. I know what you're thinking - pregnancy is the last place you would go for a good meal, with all its diet restrictions and what not. But, believe it or not, my experience proved otherwise.

One of my most vivid recollections of being preggers (aside from the nausea and weight gain) is being able to eat really well. And by well, I don't mean gorge on things you otherwise wouldn't allow yourself, but rather eat in such a way that feeds your appetite, body, and of course, your baby.

So I decided to make Pan-Seared Filet of Sole with Bok Choy, a favorite that me and baby treated ourselves to periodically throughout our 9-month-long journey together. Fish alert, fish alert! Don't worry Sole is totally low in mercury, and Bok Choy, well with it's abundance of vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, Vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, and Calcium, just to name a few) it's kind of a pregnancy superstar, if you will. The bone-strengthening minerals found in bok choy also make it an excellent choice not only for those who are pregnant, but also breastfeeding women, as well as pretty much anyone who wants to be healthy :)

Pan-Seared Filet of Sole with Bok Choy

(yield: 4-5 servings)

2 tbsp canola oil
2 lbs filet of sole, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 medium spanish onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knob of ginger, minced
8 cups bok choy*, washed, dried, and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1 orange
3/4 cup water
2 scallions, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medum-high heat. Dredge the pieces of sole in breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. Brown fish in the hot pan, about 1-2 minutes per side, and remove (you may have to work in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan).

Lower the heat slightly, adding more oil to the pan if necessary, and add onions, garlic, and ginger. Saute, stirring, 1-2 minutes.  Add the bok choy to the pan, and stir (this may look like way too much bok choy for your pan, but it will wilt down in no time). Once the bok choy is slightly wilted, add miso paste, soy sauce, and orange juice. Stir to dissolve. Add water. Bring to a simmer, and place seared fish back into the pan. Try to gently nestle the fish under everything else so that it has a chance to soak up all the juices. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Garnish with scallions.

*Bok choy has a tendancy to be very dirty, and the last thing you want to bite into after preparing this scrumptious meal is sand. So wash it!

How, you ask? Just fill a large bowl with cold water, and place the bok choy (already cut into desired size) inside. Let the bok choy chill out for a minute or so, allowing all of the sand and dirt to sink to the bottom. Remove bok choy, spill out the dirty water, and repeat a few times. Then, you can lay the bok choy out onto a kitchen towel to air dry, or spin it in a salad spinner for a quick dry.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chai Tea Ice Cream

Whoever said ice cream is meant to be eaten in the summer should be put in a corner.

Why must we be so literal, people? Why can't we warm up in unconventional ways? On a brisk fall day, you may want to warm your soul with a pinch of cinnamon, a tingle of spicy ginger and peppercorn, and a waft of fragrant vanilla. So, why not put all that into a cool mouthful of ice cream? You'll get it when you try it, trust me...

Chai Tea Ice Cream

(yield: 1 pint)

2 cups whole milk
1/2 of a vanilla bean, scraped
1 cinnamon stick
2, 1-inch slices fresh ginger
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
pinch of salt
3 bags of black tea (Earl Grey or Lipton will do)
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks

Place milk, vanilla seeds (and scraped bean), cinnamon stick, ginger, peppercorns, salt, tea bags, and 1/4 cup sugar into a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a faint simmer, and remove from heat. Discard the tea bags.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whisk as you gradually pour the hot milk into the bowl. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over very low heat for 3-4 minutes, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Discard spices, and strain the mixture into a bowl or container. Let custard cool to room temerature, and then continue to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pour the custard into an ice cream machine, and churn according to manufacturer's instructions (my cuisinart ice cream machine took 30 minutes). Transfer churned ice cream to a freezer-safe container and chill in the freezer until ready to eat. If you can't wait that long, you will have to settle for soft-serve ice cream, Boo hoo!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Green with Envy

Just because I had asparagus for dinner last night does not mean that I am on a diet, okay? In fact, my asparagus dinner was so decadent and meaty, the diet association only snuck up on me while I was observing its vibrant green in a photo.

And then it came to me. This could very well be diet food. Similarly, it could just be a ridiculously delicious treat that I can use as a vehicle for sneaking vitamins into that certain picky eater's belly. Whatever the case, this one's for all you anti-greeners out there...

Pan Roasted Asparagus with Eggs & Truffle Mustard Vinaigrette
(yield: 2-3 servings)

1 lb asparagus
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper, to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
Truffle Mustard Vinaigrette, as needed

Fill a large, deep saute pan with water to reach 1/4 of an inch up the sides. Bring to a simmer, and add the asparagus to the pan. Cover and steam the asparagus 2-3 minutes, until bright green.

Drain and pour every last drop of water out of the pan. Return the asparagus to the pan and place over medium heat. Add butter, and season with salt and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides.

Place asparagus onto a platter, top with eggs and Truffle Mustard Vinaigrette.

Truffle Mustard Vinigrette
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp truffle oil
2 tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk  together honey, mustard, and vinegar. Continue to whisk as you pour in the oils.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Countdown to Turkey Day

Last night I had the privilege of attending the Driscoll's Berries Cooking Event & Tasting Party hosted by Thanksgiving expert himself, Rick Rodgers. I've got to say, this was my first Twitter party, and I didn't exactly know what to expect. But it was a blast! Watching chef Rodgers whip up a beautiful, berry inspired Thangsgiving menu, tasting his creations, mingling with fellow foodies and bloggers, and tweeting all at once made for a pretty good time.

Among the fabulous menu items sampled was a beautiful holiday cocktail - a berry bellini. Warm brie with raspberries and pistachios was the perfect introduction to the rest of the decadent (and berry delicous) meal. The party didn't just leave me with a great taste in my mouth, but with loads of inspiration. I am SO gonna bring it this Thangsgiving!

Holiday Bellini

          Chef Rodgers explaining the fundamentals of a perfect bird

Eggnog Panna Cotta
Roasted Turkey with Roasted Acorn Squash with Raspberry
Drizzle and Wild Rice and Raspberry Dressing

 Get a few steps ahead on your Thanksgiving menu planning by checking out Rick Rodger's recipes:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Baby Gourmet: Fish!

By now it's a well known fact that fish is an incredible source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, like DHA and EPA, which play a major role in brain and eye development for children. So why not get onboard the fish train instantly and start soaking up the rewards? Though it probably shouldn't be the first thing your infant feasts on straight out of the womb, many experts are saying that it is safe to introduce your baby to fish as early as 6 months.

Since it does make the list of most common allergenic foods, however, many parents (myself included) hold off on introducing fish until their child's first birthday. Even then, there are some things to be cautious of, like mercury content. Avoid giving your child shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. These candidates have pretty high levels of Mercury. On the swing side, very low in mercury, catfish, salmon, tilapia, and flounder are great choices to start with when introducing your child to fish for the first time. And of course, always be attentive to safe-handling and thoroughly cooking the fish before giving it to your baby.

Now that you know the facts, what are you waiting for. Get cooking!

Citrus Poached Salmon

1 cup orange juice
2 cups water
juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1, 1-1/2 lb salmon steak

Place first 5 ingredients into a deep saute pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and add the salmon steak. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is completely cooked through. Remove from poaching liquid. Remove flesh from bones, and mash or flake to the consistency most suitable for your little one.

If mommy's in the mood for fish, this is a great and healthy option for you too. But if you want to elevate it a bit for your grown up taste buds, here's a quick revamp:

Make a sauce out of your poaching liquid by reducing it for about 15 minutes, until it is much thicker, and 1/3 of its original volume. Adjust the seasoning with salt and honey. Finish by mixing in a few small pads of butter.